A few years ago I might have approached this assignment much differently. I would have gone to the art or model store to buy manufactured materials and supplies. Many would contain or produce as a byproduct, toxic chemicals. I do not want to contribute to environmental devastation so I try to minimize the amount of new things I buy.
Over the summer, I was able to visit Japan and go to the worlds fair. A popular item was a branch from a tree, with notes hanging all over it. I later found out that these were all wishes that people had written down as a superstition hoping they would come true. I wanted to make something that was sturdy, so I turned to nature for design advice. Trees and plants are balanced very well through symmetry and balance, and furthermore, they use tensegrity at the molecular level. I wanted to use the tree in the same way a genealogist uses a family tree, to make a visual image of many independent parts.
This assignment came as a surprise to me, not only that it was assigned on the first day of class, but also that it involved almost anything other than a pen, and paper, or computer. For me the decision was easy after I thought about the materials and design for a little while. I didn't want to have to go to the art store and spend money, and I wanted to make something out of all the junk that was beginning to accumulate in the backyard. I remembered a tree I saw over the summer that people were writing wishes down on a piece of paper and attaching them to a tree branch. So I cut down and shrub that was dying and trimmed off most of the leaves. I also found a juice bottle that was in the trash and filled it with concrete rubble that was left over after I removed some slabs of cement. I took pictures of myself and printed them on recycled paper, and put them on the branch. I also attached some magazine photos and old sketches I had drawn. A candle made of beeswax was put on a back branch to symbolize illumination. I thought of leaving a blank surface to project video images onto it, but I don't have a projector.